Aboriginal Darebin

Batman conversations

Learn about the consultations on renaming some places in Darebin, including Batman Park in Northcote and the Federal electoral division of Batman.

In the spirit of reconciliation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, Council has resolved to consult with the community with support from the Traditional Owners of the land now known as Darebin (the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation) on renaming some places in Darebin, commencing with Batman Park in Northcote and the Federal electoral division of Batman.

Renaming Batman Park

With support from Wurundjeri Elders from the Wurundjeri Tribal Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council ('Wurundjeri Council') we held four community consultations to illuminate the many connections between the Aboriginal heritage and history of this area, and to hear the community's feedback on the renaming.

Following extensive community consultation, Darebin City Council formally endorsed ‘Gumbri’ as the preferred name for Batman Park.

The name Gumbri has endorsement by The Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation Wurundjeri Corporation.

Gumbri, also known as Jessie Hunter, was a much loved and respected Wurundjeri Elder. Her name means 'white dove' in Woi wurrung, the traditional language of the Wurundjeri people. She was the last girl born on the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve in Healesville and she had a great passion for Wurundjeri people and Country with a special interest in bush foods and medicines.

Overall, the community expressed:

  • A positive response to the potential renaming of Batman Park to recognise the traditional owners
  • A high level of respect for the experience and wisdom of Wurundjeri Elders
  • A desire for recognition of John Batman to be retained in some way within the park
  • Support for constitutional recognition, recognition of Traditional Owners, reconciliation, and a potential treaty
  • A high level of interest in accessing local places and spaces to learn more about the Aboriginal history, living culture, spirituality and heritage of Darebin
  • A desire to retain the visibility of Batman in some form within the Park, keeping all layers of history visible and ensuring continued and respectful acknowledgement of the past.

Outcome of Statutory Process for renaming Batman Park to Gumbri Park - Update as of 17 July 2018

The final process for name change was submission to the Office of Geographic Names as part of the statutory process set out under the Geographical Place Naming Act 1988.

Council has now received a formal response from the Office of Geographic Names. While the Office of Geographic Names acknowledged both the Wurundjeri Council and the support of the community to recognise Jessie Hunter (Gumbri), the proposal was not approved under the naming rules for places in Victoria. The Office have indicated they are supportive of Batman Park being renamed and recommended that Council seek to adopt an alternative name. Council will now look at renaming options moving forward in consultation with the Wurundjeri Council.

Read our Media release, Proposal to Rename Batman Park to Gumbri Park.

Does this mean that the name of Batman Park will definitely change?

Despite the recent outcomes of statutary rocess, Council is committed to renaming of the park and will continue to engage with the Traditional Owners and Darebin community in the planning, design and implementation of permanent signage for the main park entry. The process will consider feedback provided during the earlier community conversations.

The renaming is more than just a replacement of one name with another. In the spirit of reconciliation, Darebin City Council, Wurundjeri Council and the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee are committed to ensuring that the life and legacy of John Batman is still visible in the park alongside the multiple stories and histories of the park that enhance our city.

For the time being, Council has removed the Batman Park archway following recent damage to the sign. The sign has been removed to protect it from further damage, ensure the area surrounding the entrance is safe to pedestrians and to ensure its safekeeping for possible future use within the park once the proposed park renaming is approved.

Renaming the Federal Electorate of Batman

The federal electorate of Batman was created in 1906, replacing the Division of Northern Melbourne. Batman is located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and stretches through three local government areas: Yarra, Darebin and Whittlesea (Yarra and Darebin make up the majority of the division).

It takes in Alphington, Clifton Hill, Fairfield, Kingsbury, Northcote, Preston, Reservoir and Thornbury, and parts of Bundoora, Coburg North, Macleod and Thomastown. It covers an area of approximately 66sq kilometres from Thomastown/Bundoora in the north to Clifton Hill in the south, with Merri Creek providing the vast majority of the western boundary, and the eastern boundary provided by Darebin Creek, parts of Macleod and Plenty Road in Bundoora.

Of the 37 federal electoral divisions in Victoria, nine are named in Aboriginal languages: Ballarat, Corangamite, Corio, Indi, Jaga Jaga, Kooyong, Mallee, Maribyrnong, and Wannon.

In November 2017 Darebin City Council, together with the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council and Yarra City Council, lodged a joint submission calling for the renaming of the Federal Electorate of Batman to the federal electorate of Simon Wonga.

Update as at 20 June 2018

The augmented Electoral Commission for Victoria has announced the outcome of its deliberations on the names and boundaries of the 38 federal electoral divisions in Victoria, see Redistribution Committee's Recommendations. Following deliberation, written objections and comments as well as information presented at the inquiries in Winchelsea and Melbourne which Darebin Council attended, the Electoral Commission unanimously agreed to rename the Division of Batman to recognise William Cooper. The names and boundaries of of the federal electoral divisions for Victoria will apply from Friday 13 July 2018.

We welcome the Electoral Commission’s decision to rename the federal electoral Division of Batman to Cooper. This is a landmark decision, showing that at a national level, we are recognising our First Nations people.

Read our FAQ, Regarding Federal Electoral Division of Batman Renaming for questions about our position on the renaming.

William Cooper

Mr Cooper was a spokesman for Aboriginal people who, as secretary of the Australian Aborigines League presented a petition and led deputations to authorities, calling for direct representation in parliament, enfranchisement, land rights and federal control of Aboriginal affairs.

In 1938 Mr Cooper lodged a personal protest against the treatment of European Jews in Nazi Germany following Kristallnacht.

See the AEC website for details on the redistribution outcomes and for Electoral Redistribution Timeframes.

Darebin Council does not have the authority to change the name of the Batman electorate; the AEC has sole responsibility for this decision.

Why did Council want to change the name of the electorate of Batman?

The renaming of the electorate of Batman reflects the spirit and intent of Council’s Aboriginal Action Plan and our commitment to reconciliation, building on work between Council and the Aboriginal communities connected to Darebin.

Our work in this area shows respect for Traditional Owners, acknowledges our shared history and recognises the land as vital to Aboriginal communities’ cultural, spiritual and physical identity.

Council's position on why the name of Batman should not be retained for the federal electorate.

Darebin Council will continue to explore opportunities to recognise Simon Wonga in recognition and out of respect to the Wurundjeri Elders who originally proposed that the electorate be named this respected leader.

Receive updates

To receive regular updates on both of these projects, please join our mailing list by contacting us via email: diversity@darebin.vic.gov.au.

More information

If you have any comments, questions about the project or some information to share, please contact us.

Equity & Diversity
Phone: 03 8470 8365
Email: diversity@darebin.vic.gov.au